Lay the Favourite

3 Dec

lay the favourite


Director: Stephen Frears

Writers: Beth Raymer (memoir), D.V. DeVincentis (screenplay)

Stars: Rebecca Hall, Bruce Willis and Vince Vaughn

Motion Picture Rating: 15

Runtime: 94 minutes


British director Stephen Frears has had an interesting career. He has jumped around genres and locations and there have been excellent films such as Dangerous Liaisons, High Fidelity and Dirty Pretty Things, but also bombs such as Mary Reilly, Tamara Drewe and this latest film. In fact, this one might be the absolute low and in following on from Tamara Drewe it’s a truly awful sequence. In the former Gemma Arterton was strangely miscast and misused and in the latter it is Rebecca Hall, another very capable young British actress, that suffers.

The story of Lay the Favourite, possibly the worst film title of 2012, is that of Beth Raymer. It is her memoir of legal and illegal betting shenanigans on which the film is based. Rebecca Hall plays Beth and we first see her dancing privately for various unsavoury types in Florida. Almost, but not quite a call girl she leaves the state and heads to Las Vegas to find better work. There she hooks up with bookmaker Dink (Bruce Willis), his wife Tulip (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and with a collection of other bookies, gamblers, wannabe gangsters etc. Joshua Jackson becomes the new boyfriend and Vince Vaughn is a New York based bookie for who the naïve Beth also finds work.

There is so much wrong with this film it is difficult to know where to start. Rebecca Hall, a fantastic actress who was so good in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and in The Town, is hugely miscast and her girly Marilyn Monroe voice and kooky mannerisms are annoying. The other cast members are equally poor and mostly stand around looking uncomfortable. The script is dire, the direction is uninspired and one cringe-worthy scene follows another. The film has no redeeming qualities at all and director Frears is now on very thin ice indeed.

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